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Archiving Public Sex

Various posters about Pornography on wall with velvet rope and stanchion in front

Archiving Public Sex

April 29–June 28, 2014

Curated by Nicholas Matte, Lisa Kadey, Jessica Martin, Ana Martins

University of Toronto Art Centre

Archiving Public Sex, a Featured Exhibition of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, highlights materials from the Sexual Representation Collection of the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies. Photography, video, event posters, press releases, pulp novels and more provide the opportunity to consider when, why, and how sex has become public, and under what terms. The exhibition features documentation of many economic, artistic, and activist interventions.

The first section of the exhibition focuses on commercial shops and streetscapes, while the second section highlights event venues through posters from the Feminist Porn Awards and Morpheous Bondage Extravaganza, two large, international, public events staged in Toronto. Histories of censorship, legal regulation, and activism are then provided through materials related to the Canadian Committee Against Censorship – an organization which fought to preserve access to sexual materials in Canada, and the “Pussy Palace Bathouse Raid,” which provoked activists to fight for protection against police harassment.

Archiving Public Sex is a look at what sex is publically encouraged, celebrated, restricted or permitted within the context of a prevailing social climate and some of the ways that people have produced and fought for greater sexual freedoms. In turn, the exhibition demonstrates the importance of preserving key records and archival ephemera, especially for minority and marginalized groups. How have mainstream, minority and niche sexualities been shaped by diverse commercial, legal, artistic and activist contexts and social interventions? And how do these sexual histories remain relevant to our understanding of sexuality today?

Warning:This exhibition contains nudity and explicit sexuality.

This exhibition is produced as part of the requirements for the Faculty of Information, Museum Studies Program degree at the University of Toronto.

Panel Discussion

Inspired by Pecha Kucha: A series of Mini-talks
Wednesday May 21, 2014, 6-9pm
Featuring Max Allen, Carey Gray, Lorraine Hewitt, Carlyle Jansen, Carrie Leigh, Morpheous, Tristan Taormino
Followed by a reception

Our Supporters

We gratefully acknowledge project support from the University of Toronto Faculty of Information, University College, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Manulife Financial, and the Valerie Jean Griffiths Student Exhibitions Fund in Memory of William, Elva and Elizabeth.

Title Image: Installation view of Archiving Public Sex, 2014. Image credit: Toni Hafkenscheid.

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